Mistaken Identity

I went to the library the other day. As per usual, I was browsing the running books section, hoping something new had come in since I was there about a month ago. I know this is quite unlikely - they have several copies of a running guide that is so old I think a caveman wrote it. In defense of the library though, they don't have a ton of coin to spend on much of anything.

I did happen upon a title that I had not noticed before. It was The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. My friend/cousin(in-law)/half-marathoner-in-training, Adam, had mentioned it on his blog just a few weeks ago. I didn't remember all that he said about it, but I read the back cover, decided that the book looked funny and entertaining, so I promptly took it to the front counter to check-out.

I am not disappointed by the book - it is by some British guy, and he uses some of my favorite "British" terms like "smashingly", "bloody", "bloke", and "trainers." And, as with any book I read by a male author from England, I read it in my Eric Idle voice in my head. I read Good Omens like that as well. It makes it that much better.

Some time later, I was on the ol' computer and I decided to do some background research on the book. Or at least read some reviews of it. The Google result for the book gave me the following:

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a story by the British writer Alan Sillitoe, and it is contained in a collection of short stories published under the same title. The main character is a young man confined in a youth prison for delinquent young people, which is called a borstal institution. He seeks solace in long distance running.

Wait, what? My copy isn't like this at all. That description is not nearly as light-hearted as my book is. I stare at the wiki entry a little while longer, re-Google the title, and come up with the same results. I grabbed my copy of the book and stared at it for a good 2 minutes before I realized that I had the book The LOONINESS of the Long-Distance Runner (An unfit Londoner's attempt to run the New York City Marathon from Scratch).

So Eric Idle and I will finish up our book. I am still enjoying it. I think it is good for the blues-y mood that I have been in this week. I will hopefully get to that other book once I am done with this one.


Post-Marathon Blues, Part Deux

The title of yesterday's post really should have been something like I only ran two miles, and it was kind of depressing, 'cause I used to be able to do five miles without breaking a sweat, because today's post is about the actual post-marathon blues.

For the past two weeks, despite the physical aches and pains from the marathon, I have been in a great mood. I could sit on my butt, call it "recovery" and bask in the self-created glow of my accomplishment. Well, some of that shine has worn off, and now I feel kind of crummy. It's the same kind of blues that people get after an event that they have spent the better part of five months (or longer) preparing for; weddings (although I only felt relief when mine was over), graduations, childbirth (sans the complete lack of sleep, hormones out of whack, and the small human in the other room dependent on you for everything), a parole hearing, that kind of thing*. I guess it's the "now what?" factor.

And I have been eating horribly. Oh wait, I always do that. But during the marathon training, I didn't feel guilty for it. I needed those calories and carbs. And where has all of that extra energy gone? And according to several articles, I can look forward to weight gain and a cold. This kind of makes running feel like a time-share or something. Like I've been roped into it by its delivery of energy, good moods, and guilt-free cookie consumption. But the payout is that I have to get off the couch and get the miles back in.

I challenged myself to see what I could do, and I did it. So do I come up with some other challenge for myself? A triathlon, one of those cool wilderness race things, something more cerebral? Or do I just go back to whatever the hell I occupied myself with this time last year?

I am still shooting for the half marathon in April, and once I get the ship righted, I am sure that things will return to normal. But it's one of those times right now when it feels good to just wallow in it.

*I have never given birth, nor have I had a parole hearing. I can only assume that these events might have some sort of let-down time afterwards (hmmm, like PPD maybe?).


Post-Marathon Blues

I got in my first post-marathon run yesterday. Only two miles. The knee was hurting, and I really didn't feel like pushing it, although I would have felt better about myself had I gotten in three miles. Oh well. I have 13 weeks until the half, so I am not too worried about getting back up to snuff. Yet, at least.

I am trying some of the exercises from the Elite Abs article in Runner's World this month. I think I must have pulled some sort of muscle in my back while trying to do one of the side planks. That tells me my form might have been off just wee bit.


Race Report, finally

This is really long. Really long. Here goes.


Predictably, I slept only a few hours on Saturday night. I woke up around 2:00, and knowing I would have to get up in an hour, I didn’t really try to go back to sleep. I had laid my clothes out the night before, so I was pretty much dressed and ready to go by 3:15. Breakfast was a bottle of water and a super-yummy bagel with Nutella. I now swear by this meal before a run - my digestive system was once again a champ on this run. I took the shuttle from the hotel to the staging area, and I think I was there well before 4:00.

I thought the area was set up nicely. They had a live band playing. I heard two of my favorite songs while I was waiting - “A Girl Like You” (Smithereens) and “Superstitious” (Stevie Wonder). There was a super abundance of porta-potties. I made use of these about three times before we even started walking to the starting line. I didn’t have to go of course, but I had time to kill and I was hoping to get lucky.

It was about a 10 minute walk to the actual starting line. I was in Corral C, which is fancy-talk for “the back.” This was fine by me. Besides, Corral C had an excellent view of the fireworks that they shot off when the first Corral started. Although I had peed three times already, about 5:45 I got nervous bladder and had to go again. The starting line area was also well-stocked with porta-potties, but there were about 7,000 (literally) people in line for them, so I put another notch in my “now I’m a runner” belt and made my way to the woods to drop trou. I like to think that my high school days of “party in a field” helped prepare me for that moment.

At this point, the reader can refer to my post about "The Gu-ing."

Epcot was beautiful – it was still totally dark out and they had everything all lit up for us. Lots of support from Cast Members who had already arrived. I especially enjoyed running through one of the backstage areas and seeing the big globe thing that they bring out into the middle of the lake during the nightly fireworks show, Illuminations. I don’t know why I enjoyed that, but I did.

Miles four through nine were mostly uneventful. Aside from trying to remove more Gu residue with water from the water stops (I drank the PowerAde, washed myself with the water), I don’t really recall much. We were between parks, and the scenery was a bit on the dull side. Somewhere between mile 4 and 5, I actually consumed a Gu, as opposed to just wearing it.

Mile nine-ish brought us into the Magic Kingdom. Going through the parking lot, the course actually split for about 200 yards. One side was playing country music, the other side 80’s hits. I chose the 80’s, and I think that something by The Cars was playing. But I might be wrong on that. The run down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom was amazing. There was a good crowd, and for the first time during the race I heard some random fan cheering for me. Just for me. It was a great feeling, and it was the second time during the day that I got teary-eyed. (And thanks to the Disney folks for putting our names on our race bibs – I’ll not run another race without my name on my person for the crowd to see.)

We came around the backside of Cinderella’s Castle, and then we did the fabled run-through. I’ve been to the actual castle in Germany that they based her castle on. It was nice and “real” and everything, but running through this one was much cooler. She was there, and she had some trumpeters there to greet us as well.

I was starting to lose some steam at this point. Consumed another Gu. We left the Magic Kingdom and entered what was to be the longest stretch of the race for me. I am quite thankful that I didn’t know how boring miles 11-15 were going to be. I had told myself to get to the 13.1/halfway mark, and then I could take a decent walk break. I must have decided to push onto mile 14, though as my split time for mile 13 was 11:44, and the split for mile 14 was 14:01 (my slowest split of the day).

There were some speakers set up along the way, I got to hear some several songs, but only for about 15 seconds at a time. The only song that I specifically remember hearing during this stretch was “TubThumbing” by Chumbawumba. Hell . Actually I remember one other song, and that was from the Fort Lauderdale Road Runners Club, who had a several places where they set up to cheer. They had a stereo blasting “Hot in Herre” by Nelly. I remember this one really old man (who probably could have smoked my marathon finish time) that was dancing rather graphically in a grass skirt to the song.

Mile 16 – Hello back gates of Animal Kingdom! There were several animal handlers out with goats, a snake, a big red bird, and a few other petting zoo-esque animals. Once again, I wished I had a camera with me. I do think it would have been really cool had they had one of the tigers out. Then again, with 18,000 already tired people passing by (most very slow, by tiger standards), maybe it was a conscious decision on the part of the Disney folks to NOT have a tiger out.

By this time, there were already guests in the park, and you could easily spot the people who had no idea that there was a schedule marathon that day. They looked quite confused. But there were several good sports in the bunch who put down their five dollar sodas and cheered us on.

Mile 18 was right as we were leaving Animal Kingdom. I saw a nice looking man next to me on his cell phone. Once he finished his call, he let me use it to call the Hubs for an update. I was overly giddy about this, but Hubs (was in the bathroom and) missed the call. The nice mystery cell phone man said that if someone named Brian called back he would let him know that I was doing well and was heading towards mile 19.

I was feeling, well, good at this point. I was very shocked by how good I felt. My family was supposed to be somewhere between miles 23 and 25 cheering me on, so I think I was getting a lot of energy off that, just knowing that I would get to see them in a few more miles. And I felt like I was over the hump. I never once thought “Oh my god, I can’t do this.” I have wondered if I was cheated in some way by NOT feeling that, and subsequently pushing through, but I know that I should just very thankful that it went as well as it did.

I did much more walking over the next few miles, averaging a 12:58 pace for miles 18-23. I was feeling okay enough to keep running, but I was also hoping to preserve that feeling. I was also afraid that some blisters might be coming on, but I just kept telling myself that I would stop at the next aid station to check it out. At each station I would come to, I would decide that it wasn’t bad and that I could stop and the next aid station, which would only be a mile away.

Mile 20 had a DJ set up. As I approached it some really grating Disney song about a small world was playing. There was a turnaround ahead at mile 21, and as I came back towards the DJ, I heard the ever-familiar beginning notes of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. For the third and final time that day I got all choked up. Not because of the song's message to keep on believin’, but because I knew that my husband was somewhere in the crowd around the 24 mile mark – he is a huge Journey fan. I think an actual tear came out that time. I remember thinking “Are you kidding me? Is this going to be what turns on the waterworks today?”

We next went through Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM). It was really cool and all, but I had blinders on by that point to just get to the finish line. I do recall hearing the score to Remember the Titans playing somewhere in there, and I was very happy to hear it.

Mile 24 was almost back into Epcot, and where I was expecting to see my husband, my parents, and all of my in-laws. THAT is why I was saving all that energy. My split time was 11:35 for mile 24. I guess I wanted to make sure that when they saw me, I was running. Sadly, they weren’t there. The executive decision had been made that if they had been there, they would not have made it to see the finish. But there was still tons of crowd support and I heard lots of random people cheering for me, so it was all good anyway.

Mile 25 and back into Epcot. I passed the last aid and water station. I was probably alternating 100 yards of running and 100 yards of walking by then. I really wanted to run the entire last 1.2, but I just didn’t have it in me. My pace bounced around anywhere from 9:20 to 16:40. Then I saw the big nut (as my husband calls it). The big Epcot golf ball. I had to run then. At the mile 26 marker there was a full-on gospel choir. Awesome. Finish line ahead. Running. Off to my left, I heard something I haven’t heard since my last high school soccer game almost 13 years ago. It was my mother cheering and screaming for me, somehow stretching my short, four-letter name out into about 12 syllables. I caught a glimpse of her and then my mother-in-law. My pace when I crossed the finish line was 7:59.


Two thumbs way up!

I am a little slow on the uptake on this one, but THURSDAY THURSDAY THURSDAY night is the ONE NIGHT ONLY release of the movie Spirit of the Marathon. The closest theater to me that is showing it is about an hour away. I had decided to wait until the DVD release (summer 08, they say), but after watching the trailer, I really want to make the trip to see the flick.

To tha roof!

One of my gripes with myself after the half marathon last year was that there were no good pictures of me during the race. I was never looking at the camera, I wasn't smiling, and I certainly wasn't waving at the camera. "I won't make that mistake twice," I thought to myself before the marathon. So I was sure to smile and wave and jump in front of other people every time I saw a camera (yes, I know it is poor form to jump in front of other runners so that you can get a good picture. But other people were doing it to me too!). ANYWAY, end the result is that I have my supa-bad fake smile and BOTH arms in the air for the majority of the in-race pictures. One might think I ran the whole race with both arms raised to the heavens. That was not the case. But here are the pictures anyway.

And I have pretty much decided that I am doing the Country Music Half Marathon in April. I am shooting to shave 12 minutes off of last years' time!


By the numbers

I'm going to go McBlog today!

Days since I started training: 135
Number of those days I ran: 46
Total distance covered: 253.08 miles
Total time running: 45:39:45
Average pace: 10:49 min/mile
Longest training run: FIFTEEN MILES (and that was on 11/24)
Marathon clock time: 5:36:36
Marathon chip time: 5:31:40
Time excluding bathroom/Gu wash-off stops: Approx. 5:20:00
Overall place: 7791 out of 12,964 finishers
Gender place: 3153 out of 6204
Half Marathon split time: 2:43:17
Packets of Gu consumed: 4 (at 5, 9, 14, and 20 miles)
Calories burned: 2615
Fastest mile split time: 10:03 (not surprisingly, mile one)
Slowest mile split time: 14:01 (mile 14)
Most surprising mile split time: 11:35 (mile 24 - I must have been saving some energy)
Toenails turning black: 1, "index" toe on my left foot
Blisters: 4, but none of them were very big


Video from Sunday

I found a nice 5 minute video of B-roll of the marathon.

I am in there somewhere, but if you can find me, you have have sharper eyes than I do. There is some good footage about a minute in of runners going down Main Street USA and into Cinderella's Castle. Note the trumpeters on the castle celebrating our arrival!

Also note Mr. & Mrs. Incredible at the 2:13 mark of the video. I saw them several times during the race. They were the best runner costumes on the course.


Race Report One - The Gu-ing

I sat down this evening to type out my race report in Microsoft Word. I am almost on page 4, single-spaced, and I'm only up to mile 5. So I have decided to post what was one of the most noteworthy parts of the marathon, and I will add a few posts over the next few days to finish up the telling of the marathon. As luck would have it the event occurred at the start of the race, so I may be able to keep things in chronological order.

The Gu-ing

At 6:00 we all managed to be quiet for the National Anthem. Some fireworks went off, everyone cheered, and we started shuffling forward as the corrals in front of us made their way. That point was one of the three times during the day that I almost cried. The enormity of it all hit me, and I was pretty scared about what the next several hours were going to have in store for me. The sound of the chip mat beeping in front of me jolted me back to the moment, I hit the timer start button on my Garmin, and I was off.

Maybe because I was at the back of the field, things seemed to thin out quickly. I was passed by faster runners, and I did some passing of my own. I realized that it was hot. Well, not so hot as it was HUMID. I was sweating profusely, and I had barely done anything.

“Thankfully” something happened to make me forgot about the weather. I was running along, thinking about how decent mile one was going. Then I felt something cold and wet hit my hand and my shirt. I thought “Oh, some idiot just dumped some water out and I got hit with some. Oh well, it’s pretty hot right now, so it’s not a big deal.” A second later I discovered that my hand was sticky. Apparently, I was covered in Gu. Yes, I was covered in energy gel. It may have been straight-up Elmer’s Wood Glue, as sticky as it was. Or maybe the glue that NASA uses to attach those heat resistant tiles on the bottom of the shuttle. I can only guess that someone had dropped a Gu packet, then someone else stepped on it, and I was in the line of gross, sticky fire.

My right hand was coated in Gu. It was all over my race number and the front of my shirt. My shorts were plastered to my legs. It was dribbling down my leg. For brevity’s sake, I’ll kind of skip over everything that went through my mind at that point, but I will say that rage is an excellent emotion to carry one through the first 10 miles of a marathon.

We were headed into Epcot a few minutes later, so I stopped at EVERY bathroom that we passed in an effort to wash the Gu off. Gu doesn’t wash off. Scrub all you want with paper towels and commercial grade hand wash – you’ll still have a sticky residue. I was having chafing issues 1.5 miles in, thanks to the Gu incident.

I eventually got the Gu situation into something I could tolerate. I did try to offset the leg-chafing with some Vaseline from the aid station. So I was sticky AND covered in Vaseline. I was a red-hot mess.


Aaaaaaaaaaaand Done!

Not official, but finish time of about 5:30. I'll post details in the next few days!


Packing and checking the weather

Egads! The forecast for Sunday in Orlando has changed AGAIN. The expected high is back up to 75, up from the listed 72 that I saw late last night. But 75 is better than the forecasted 80 that was listed a few days ago. I will be checking again in about 15 minutes (and at 15 minute intervals for pretty much the next 4 days), so there is hope I will see another downswing in the temperature.

I have settled down significantly from the other night. Right now I am just working on logistics - reservations for parking at the airport, reservations for the dog to board, laundry, printing out all my paperwork, and making a packing list. The packing list is tricky. I am not really worried about bringing the right kinds of clothes for the run (assuming the forecast stays about the same) - shorts and a singlet. It's going to be chilly in the AM, but I will just wear a supa-fly trash bag to keep warm before I start.

As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I can't decided what shorts to wear I wore black shorts and a white singlet for the half marathon - BORING! I have two pairs of Nike Tempo shorts that I love, but I am afraid that they might cause some chafe-age. I have my loverly New Balance running skirt that is quite comfortable, but it doesn't have a pocket. Decisions, decisions. I mean, I will need all the help I can get to look cute in race pictures. My pictures from the half were pretty bad, so one of my goals (aside from completing a marathon) is to have some good snapshots.


Pre-marathon "I'm freaking out post" #1

I have been supa-dupa calm about the upcoming marathon. People this weekend were like "wow, you are doing a marathon on Sunday. Are you nervous?" And my reply was, "no, not really." In fact, I wasn't nervous, scared, excited, or ANYTHING about it. It was just something on my calendar. A big something, but just the word "marathon!!" written in ball point, and run over by a highlighter.

I just got off the phone with my wicked awesome sister-in-law. She is an employee of Disney and she got us a wicked awesome discount to stay on site for the marathon. Well NOW I am excited (and nervous and scared). Like I hung up the phone and was bouncing off the walls. I pulled out my race information packet, looked at the course map, and muttered, "I'm going to die" to my husband. He said all the right reassuring things to me. What a good man, that Hubs of mine.

**I am also on my second (or third?) glass of wine, so that is my excuse for typing the word "like" as many times as I did in this post


Happy New Year

Here's to a happy, healthy 2008!

My New Year's Eve was absolutely nothing like the photo to the left. I was asleep by 10:30. I vaguely remember saying "Happy New Year" when the Hubs came to bed at 12:30. I also remember asking about the outcome of the Peach Bowl. EXCUSE ME, The Chick-Fil-A Bowl. I love and adore the Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit. That, plus a Coke, make up one of the best breakfasts ever. But it's the Peach Bowl.

On the running front, things are going as well as possible. I got a Forerunner 205 for Christmas, and as I suspected, having a new running toy is a great motivator to get out and run. I have been wanting to put it on my dog so that we can find out just how fast he runs when he does what we call "the puppy run" or "the butt tuck run."

For the most part, I am in self-preservation mode - stay healthy enough to still be excited about doing the marathon. I am not going to get the finish time that I was hoping for six weeks ago, but it should still be fun. Twenty-six-point-two of fun!

More to follow soon. I have an exciting day of sitting on the couch watching football planned.